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Clinton meets Suu Kyi, lays down reform markers

world Updated: Dec 02, 2011 12:32 IST

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Wrapping up a historic three-day visit to Myanmar on Friday, Hillary Rodham Clinton met for a second time with former political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, this time for a more formal meeting at the lakeside residence where the Nobel laureate was kept under house arrest for much of the last two decades.

Suu Kyi and her staff welcomed Clinton, who greeted Suu Kyi with two kisses on the cheek, saying: "It is just a great honor for me not only to be here but to see all of you."

Clinton's meetings with Suu Kyi were the highlight of the US secretary of state's visit to the long-isolated country also known as Burma and forcefully underscored a US challenge to its leaders: The new civilian government must expand recent reforms, including the release of political prisoners, to improve relations as it emerges from more than a half-century of repressive military rule.

"We believe that any political prisoner anywhere should be released," Clinton told reporters on Thursday.

"One political prisoner is one too many in our view." US officials warned that even the modest incentives Clinton offered to Myanmar's new, military-backed leaders this week would come off the table if the country fails the political-prisoners and other tests of reform.

In meetings with top Myanmar officials in the capital of Naypyidaw and then with Suu Kyi in the commercial hub of Yangon, Clinton said the country's leaders must end violent campaigns against ethnic minorities and break military ties with North Korea.